Friday, August 23, 2013

Musings from a Friday Afternoon

I had a very fun Friday afternoon at the home, alternating harp songs with readings from Dr. Seuss's If I Ran The Circus. It was one of those times when things just seemed to flow well (despite the usual interruptions), and I think the songs were as engaging as the energetic circus announcing. A couple of old English dances went off particularly well, considering that sometimes they end up in a muddled heap of notes. The next section in the book was about trapeze artists; it seemed the perfect follow-up to what felt like an aerial stunt on the harp.

Of course, the best part was the reaction from people who often are difficult to engage successfully. When a person who is usually restless and angry-- or a person who is usually apathetic and sleeps all day-- is nodding and laughing and cheering and clapping, I can't help but feel like I'm doing something right. I'm very grateful for the ability to engage them on such a level.  While it works best without the families present for some reason, I wish families could see their loved ones at such moments.

harp and quiver

One of the friends from knitting group made this felted bag for me in a knitting swap so that I could carry my music stand when I'm roaming with the harp through the nursing home. It works beautifully, and also saves me from having to keep the tuning equipment in my pockets during such ventures.  I still have faint impressions of being in Robin Hood's band of merry men when I wear it. Well, the yarn she used is Shepherd's Wool - so incredibly soft, even after felting - so that whim is tempered a bit.

Let's see, what else have I been up to?

I whipped out a modified Pterotactyl shawl using my handspun!
Handspun Pterotactyl

I selected the pattern because I love its wide wingspan, and I only had about 370 yards of a heavier-weight yarn. It worked pretty much perfectly, I'd say!

Handspun Pterotactyl

Handspun Pterotactyl

While I was still working on the shawl, I also got to do some lovely August knit-hiking in the Wissahickon Valley Park. It's in Philadelphia, but in the county sense versus the Center City sense. If you can get away to see it, I think you'll be pleased you did.

Wissahickon

Knittin' Wissahickon

Wissahickon

Wissahickon

Yes, I was actually knitting as I walked much of this path. Hooray for garter stitch!

Wissahickon Valley Park

Wissahickon

Knittin' Wissahickon

My favorite way to knit is by a stream or waterfall or other body of water. All the better if I can dangle my feet over a stone wall and watch the first signs of the approaching autumn drift downstream. 

Happy dregs of summer. With the cooler weather we had recently (excepting this week), I'm doing all I can not to jump out of my skin in anticipation of autumn!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Make that four.

Meadow Socks

I'm really glad to have these off my back. I started them way back in February of 2012. As you can see, they're just plain socks, nothing fancy. But the yarn-needle combination didn't make me want to work on these much. Or maybe it was the start contrast from the ribbing to the toe; I'm not sure. Regardless of what irked me, they will do just fine when socks are needed. (I need to take up darning; some of my favorite socks have been taken out of circulation until they can be brought back to working condition.)

Meadow Socks

The main sock yarn is 100% BFL wool - maybe that threw me off; I'm not used to that type of wool at that gauge. It didn't have a lot of body, which is why I opted for the tiny needles (US size 0). I'm interested to see how it wears. For reinforcement purposes, I used a 75/25 Merino/Nylon blend on the heels/toes. 

Meadow Socks

I'm actually really excited to have a pair of BFL wool socks, and I'm looking forward to using more breed-specific sock yarns in the future.  Breeds other than the standard merino are being made increasingly available to yarn fanatics, and it's remarkable how the different yarns feel and behave. Much like the rationale behind supporting a local farmer's market or any other privately owned business, I find satisfaction in buying yarns that are helping to support smaller pockets in the industry. I certainly don't want to see those special breeds go away, and especially not because people assumed cheaper and easier is better. I even bought this particular yarn because I wanted to support an acquaintance who had opened a yarn shop near my old hometown, an area that really lacked a local yarn shop.

Meadow Socks

The hard part is over, and now I can just enjoy another pair of socks with a lot of love put into them!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tha-ree down! (crochet edition)

I finished a third item from my Countdown Challenge!  And this one's crochet!

Grannies' Grannies

Grannies' Grannies

Okay, so I didn't worry about everything being perfect. I just wanted this done. But now I have one of my favorite knitting bags free to use again!

Grannies' Grannies

See what I mean about not being perfect? That's okay. I think the colors make up for its imperfections. And this blanket was about the process that went into making the squares; once that part was over, it became something that just needed gettin' done.

Grannies' Grannies

More on the process, lifted from my ravelry project page:
Worked on these squares with the elderly at the home. They helped me wind the balls and pick the colors and hold the yarn while I did the crocheting. They usually got to talking about their old crochet days - which was a big deal, since many of them hardly spoke most of the time. Crocheting seemed to slow things down enough for their thoughts to bubble to the surface.

Grannies' Grannies

I had wanted to give this back to the elderly, but I've moved to a different state and a different facility. I'll have to mull this one over. I could always use the excuse to go visit the old haunt...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Two Down.

Boom.

Fish fish fish

Fish fish fish

Fish fish fish

I finally got the eyes onto this little sucker. I don't know exactly why, but I always seem to get stuck on that part, but when I finish I love the result. I guess it kinda looks like crap until I add the pupils.

Speaking of strange eyeless fish, I got a few daylight shots of the sparkly fish, knit mostly in Berrocco Flicker.

Fish fish fish

The yarn was a bit tricky in terms of gauge, but I love the look of the texture. In a way, it reminds me of scales. Of course, the feel is nothing like scales, being mostly alpaca.

Fish fish fish

Fish fish fish

Other Countdown projects I've worked on this week: 
  • Slade (and found out it might need some tweaking in order to fit right... I'm kinda excited about this little modification. More to come.)
  • Happy Flapless Flip Flop Socks
  • Meadow Socks

Overall, it's been an encouraging start. I keep wanting to cast things on, especially with my latest handspun, but I'm trying to be good.

What languishing UFO have you picked up recently?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

One down!

Happy August!

I hope your summer is going well. Today we got the most lovely rain throughout the day - I kept seeing glimpses out the windows at work, views of elegantly tall tree trunks quite at home in the heavy rainfall, the wet grass a dark green under the cloudy skies--just lovely. The kind of weather I just want to watch.

This week has been an especially fun week for knitting, as I have finished work each day to come home for supper, only to head out to the park for a public reading of C.S. Lewis's Prince Caspian.

Narnia in the Park 2

The rain required us to take things indoors tonight, but spirits were not dampened. The nightly music is all related to the British Isles, but tonight included a song performed on the harp! Aaand, I managed to finish my sparkly fish hat! One down!

Sparklefish.

Last night I also tried making eyes for the other fish hat, but they came out poorly. Back in time out.

I also recently finished a spinning project I began a while ago. My friend Aaron is ever the spinning enabler, and he sent me this fiber he carded as a birthday gift. I tried my hand at a sort of long-draw technique, and now it's finished!

On the bobbin...
Finished up at Twist near New Hope, PA during their monthly Spin-In!
Did you know Elizabeth Zimmermann lived in New Hope at one point?

On the bobbin...

Aaron's gift

I had seen Aaron post photos of this fiber when he was carding it, and I loved it then. It had so much potential. Now that it's in yarn form, I'm still in love, and can't wait to knit it up so I can take it with me. I know I may turn some heads when I accessorize with a shawl, but I don't think people will understand if I accessorized with a skein ... though must say, I love its current state.

Aaron's gift

What a delightful spin. Thanks, Aaron!